Does God Hear Our Questions?
Written by Stephen Buckley
God is the God of questions.
In a culture that prizes smug certainty, that may surprise us. In reality, though, we should not be surprised, as God invented the very idea of questions. Throughout the Bible, we see them used to powerful effect. Think of some of the Gospels’ most memorable verses:
There is Mark 8:36, where Jesus warns: “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” In Luke 12:28, he urges us not to worry: “If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?” And on the cross, Jesus quotes Psalm 22, asking a question that has resounded through the ages: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the Bible’s most famous passages are simply a series of questions. In Job 38 and 39, God bombards him with queries such as: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?...On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together, and all the angels shouted for joy?” In those chapters, God asks more than 50 questions.
The psalms are replete with questions, as the writers of those holy songs pour out their hearts. They wonder why good people suffer, and why evil people thrive. They are puzzled as to why the Lord is taking so long to rescue them. They ask God if he will keep his promises to comfort and protect them. Their questions reflect fear, bafflement, resentment, rage—toward others and toward God.
The psalmists remind us that we should take our questions first to God. Not our friends or our significant others or even our spouses. Yes, God sometimes uses them to supply answers, but when we start with him, it is much easier to recognize him as the ultimate Source of our clarity.
Yet sometimes there is no clarity, only mystery. Certain questions haunt us for years, and we ask God again and again to illuminate us. And we get nothing. We can take comfort in knowing that our Savior understands what it’s like to cry into the void—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—and hear only silence. Even in that silence, Jesus pressed on. And our salvation is the result.
Jesus’ example shows us that, to God, no question is off limits. We do not have to worry about his being disappointed or angry with us when we’re honest with him. He knows these questions are in our hearts anyway, and he invites us to share them with him, no matter how seemingly silly or profound or heart wrenching. He can take it.
On the other hand, Job 38 and 39 remind us that God is sovereign and good. Anchoring ourselves in this reality keeps our questions from curdling into cynical complaint. In no uncertain terms, he tells Job, and us, that he is both the beginning and the end, that he himself knows no bounds and sets all limits. In other words, he welcomes our questions, our pleas of the heart. But ultimately, he himself—his love, his presence, his kindness, his strength, his grace—will always be the Answer.